Adam Merberg wrote:
Say What Michael Pollan? The Free Lunch
I’ll first look at the grain used to feed Salatin’s broilers. The most recent printing of The Omnivore’s Dilemma states (page 222) that Salatin raises 12,000 broilers each year. (The productivity numbers in earlier printings were different. In fact, my copy even has different numbers in two different places.) According to Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profit$, the broilers have a carcass weight of 4 pounds, and the chickens require 3 pounds of feed for each pound of carcass weight (page 185). That comes out to 144,000 pounds of feed each year. Salatin writes that he uses a feed consisting of 52% corn, 29% roasted soybeans, 11% crimped oats, and the rest consisting of fish meal, kelp and nutritional supplements. Since I’d like my estimate of the energy content of the feed to be conservative, I’ll ignore the calorie content of everything but the grains. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find good data for calorie content of feed grains, so I’ll be using data for food-grade grains. Using USDA data for corn, soy, and oats, one finds that a mixture of 0.52 pounds of corn, 0.29 pounds of soybeans, and 0.11 pounds of oats contains a little over 1700 calories. That comes out to 244,800,000 calories in the feed grain.
Now what about the productivity of Salatin’s farm? Here things get pretty tricky. There are several different kinds of animals, and each has several different kinds of meat with different calorie densities. For rabbits, I wasn’t able to find any useful data on carcass weights. Regardless, here is the calculation in tabular form. (References are at the end of the post. Where no reference is given, the source is the version of The Omnivore’s Dilemma available on Google Books.)
Food Quantity / Energy density / Total Energy (Cal)
Beef 25,000 lb / 1163 Cal/lb 1 / 29,075,000
Pork 50,000 lb / 1062 Cal/lb 1 / 53,100,100
Broiler hens / 48,000 lb 2 / 615 Cal/lb 1 29,540,136
Stewing hens / 2,400 lb 3 615 Cal/lb 4 / 1,476,000
Turkeys / 12,000 lb5 / 541 Cal/lb 1 / 6,492,000
Rabbits / 5,000 lb 6 617 Cal/lb 7 / 3,085,000
Eggs / 360,000 eggs / 135 Cal/egg 8 / 48,600,000
Total / 171,368,236
With these very rough estimates, it appears that Polyface actually requires more calories in feed than it produces in food. ...
Nicholas Langis wrote:Will that documentary openly disclose that the Polyface "miracle" requires more grain calories in input than it produces in actual meat?
J D Horn wrote:Comparing grain calories to animal meat calories - really? That's the criticism? Seriously?
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:In addition to "politics" and "religion", I think "food dogma" is an equally divisive issue out there.
Johnny Niamert wrote:A lot of people, myself included, can sometimes take health advice as a personal attack.
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:People all over the world have different food preferences, practices, and preparation styles that serve them best. For traditional peoples, these are based on the climate and customs which are their heritage. For those of us in the "global market", we may have a broader palate and more choices. However, across the board Big Ag/chem fertilizers have depleted nutrients in foods across the spectrum - plant and animal.
So I say, "Kudos to Salatin" and the rest of the folks making a difference in the quality and nutrition of the foods that suit their own preferences. Their experiments stand as a testament to a "different way" at the VERY least.
Gary Nabhan is one of the most important food writers we have in this country. In this eloquent and fascinating book, he shows us how our food and culture are so deeply rooted in our land and agriculture. - Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse
This exploration of the coevolution of communities and their native foods couldn’t be more timely…Mixing hard science with personal anecdotes, Nabhan convincingly argues that health comes from a genetically appropriate diet inextricably entwined with a healthy land and culture. – Publishers Weekly
Benett Freeman wrote:Surely the real question is not calories in vs. calories out, but 'are those calories out enough to support the people that do the neceesary labour to assist nature making those calories?'
From what I've been able to glean so far, it doesn't look like many people at all are growing close to all their food, and I think that's a shame, since it can blatantly be done.
Some people on another thread were saying that Mr. Salatin had become too distracted by his fame?